The Daily Dose: GMO approval just got a little easier in the U.S.

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The road to supermarket shelves just got a little bit simpler for genetically modified organisms in the United States thanks to new rules that tweak the how the foods are assessed. As per Science, “The gist of the shift is that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will now focus on new traits themselves rather than the technology used to create them, a change of approach that plant scientists have long wanted. Several reviews by the National Academy of Sciences have concluded that the risk that GM plants will become weeds is generally low, and that molecular tools typically don’t pose new risks compared with traditional plant breeding techniques.” The adjustment isn’t a bad thing in our eyes, but will certainly get a significant portion of the population apoplectic.

That COVID-19, a highly contagious disease, has taken a massive toll among disenfranchised groups and communities shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, especially not epidemiologists. It’s been the case for centuries, at least. Like clockwork, scientists are chiming in on the not-so-novel-phenomenon as if its something new. As per Nature, “They say that better data are needed on the incidence of the disease, that testing needs to be ramped up and that hospitals serving people at-risk need to better prepare. Researchers and some US lawmakers are now calling for a national commission devoted to identifying racial disparities in health that would act as a unified voice in trying to overcome them.” Heard that a million times. Nothing new there. We have an interesting proposal. How about the scientific community really put their weight behind solving socioeconomic inequalities?

The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. It’s only rolling slowly across the globe. As per the Associated Press, “As the coronavirus outbreak eases in Western Europe and parts of the U.S., cases are rising steadily in Russia in a crisis that has damaged President Vladimir Putin’s standing and stirred suspicion that the true death toll in the country is being concealed… Russia is now behind only the United States in the number of reported infections. Cases are also spiking in such places as India, South Africa and Mexico.” Unfortunately, once things calm down, the second wave will be ready to go.

Colonizing Mars may force humans to make tough ethical decisions regarding genetically modifying segments of the population who will make the voyage to the Red Planet in order to live there. As per, “Genetic engineering and other advanced technologies “may need to come into play if people want to live and work and thrive, and establish their family, and stay on Mars,” Kennda Lynch, an astrobiologist and geomicrobiologist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston.” Scientists have already begun inserting snippets of tardigrade DNA into human cells to see how the hybrid cells are affected by radiation.

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